Sunday, April 14, 2013

Ideas to Help Sales

As writers we all want to succeed, but what exactly does it take?  As a writer that has learned by the seat of her pants. Learning the hard way makes you remember it better and also helps you celebrate the loudest when you reach it.

As you all know I have tried many avenues of the writing field. I've written contemporary romance and switched to historical, western, romance. I've written children's series books and poetry, and even dabbled in short stories. Only to find out that my real niche is in contemporary romance. Go figure.
Series books has shown to be good sellers, in the print and the ebook areas.

But there is money to be had in self-publishing these days and anyone that has written for any length of time knows this.

Also a good backlist of books helps you make money.

I recently noticed one of my books has always lagged and wondered what the problem might be. It's an old fashioned kind of love story, so I figured everyone would enjoy that. It had been edited by several e-book publishers, and reviewed by many, the reviews were good. So what was wrong?

Well, believe it or not, part of what was wrong was the cover. I had a lone female on the cover and although she fit the book well, it did not garner many sales. So I set out to find a new cover, and it was a long and tedious search but I finally found one that gives off a relaxed, romantic book. Pretend Mom is not a new book, but it does have a new cover. Now, you might want to know if the new cover helped.

Yes, it did help! Quite a bit since this book was getting very little attention.  The cover alone did change the sales. So anytime you think you are spending too much money or time looking for a cover, think again. However, although I proved this point, with Pretend Mom and Wandering Heart, how does one know they have the right cover?

It's impossible to know if your cover is going to spur sales or make readers look for something else.
One sure fire way is to wait and see how the sales look. If you have several books you can compare them to each other in sales. If one is lacking, it could be the cover.

As most of you that know me, know I change my covers often. That's because for one thing a new cover will draw more attention to a non-updated book. So if you take the time, if you consider what your book is about and what kind of atmosphere you are creating for your book, it's all worth it.

Another thing about covers, I learned that making a brand for a series is a good idea, that way people know that those books go together, and so increases sales for the series. So be sure and make the series announcement to catch the eye.  I have learned through experience that certain things work.

Self-published authors need to make sure they have the best of editors, a great cover and a good story to sell a book. It all sounds relatively easy, but what you think is the best may not be. I constantly re-edit my work, send it out to be edited, and re-do covers with some of my favorite artist.  Another thing I have found to be a good idea, I have my books professionally formatted. If you don't think this makes a difference you are wrong. A lot of us can put the work up on the self-published places ourselves, but always check it out and see how it looks before you leave it. The reader wants it perfect, and we have to be as perfect as we can be. I spend spare time looking for covers that might fit. And here's something interesting too, searching for the right cover can inspire a writer with a new plot and new characters.

Just some thoughts, what are yours?


Patricia Bates said...

This is really good information and I think applies not only to the self-pubbed author but the epub as well. I'm both, and have to say I'm always looking at ways to spice up my promotions and get my books out for readers. Thanks for the great read!

Redameter said...

WEll, I guess no one is interested in this topic, but I was hoping I could get other opinions as to sales of their books and what has and hasn't worked for them. By comparing notes, we help each other.

jean hart stewart said...

Would love to comment intelligently, but since I'm mostly pubbed by EC have little to say about the dovers. From my sales I would say I think an animal on the cover(if there's one in the story) helps.

Sarah J. McNeal said...

Covers are important. They are the first thing a reader sees. If they aren’t well thought out and attractive, an author will lose sales. I am lucky enough to have a publisher that allows a great deal of input from its authors. There are elements to the cover that tells a reader right off if it’s contemporary, historical, mystery, nonfiction and so on. To avoid confusion, these elements have to appear on the cover. Debbie McCombre’s books all have painted art of houses, small shops and hometown sort of covers and her titles are often street addresses like 42 Blossom Street. You know they’re contemporary and the reader can rightly assume the stories are about women. I’ve seen covers where the characters look almost cartoonish and the stories were historical or paranormal romance. Not good. The covers looked amateurish and were a turn-off.
Titles are important, too. The title should be catchy, clarify the story theme and should be short. My story, Harmonica Joe’s Reluctant Bride, might be a smidge too long. Maybe Harmonica Joe would have sufficed. I’ve noticed several authors use song titles as songs and that works well I think. I don’t like it when an author titles a book making it seem like one genre, when it’s something entirely different or when they use a title already used by a famous author. It’s misleading. Complicated titles make me crazy. I read a book about a child growing up in South Africa during the time of unrest and racial inequality. It was a beautifully written book. The book was loaned to me and recommended by one of the doctors I worked with in the ER. I never would have bought the book because its title was complicated and off from the story line—something having to do with dogs barking at night. I would have missed a great story had I just gone by the title.
The logline, that simple few words that states the story theme needs to be short—very short like less that 25 words, even better just ten words or less. It has to give the theme and conflict in a tantalizing way to draw in a reader and make them wonder how the story unfolds.
Blurbs should be short, especially if you’re doing your promoting on line. Readers don’t have a lot of time to waste reading a whole first chapter. They want to get down to business: who are the main characters? What do they want? What stands in their way?
Well, that’s my bit of advice, Rita. Most of it learned the hard way or by being the reader looking for books. I wish you great success and happy sales.

Redameter said...

Sarah, Jean, and Patricia I agree with all that was said here. Blurbs and Titles are important too, but a lot of times especially if the book isn't self published the author has little imput as to Title. An Titles are picked a lot by the publisher, especially in print books, which is ironic I think. No one knows the book better than the author.

I also think that changing things is good after a time. I have a backlist and I find if I change of it the blurbs, the intro to who I am, the cover, it draws more attention. I began with covers that were painted by a artist, and at first that was great, it was much nicer than the poser cover, but nowdays those covers that are painted look obsolete. Posers are obsolete too. Sometimes you can't find a cover but have to have it made. And a lot of the time it will be well worth the making. But again the cover is in the eyes of the beholder. And sometimes what we like ourselves is not what others like.

Jean I put a bear on my Heart of the Wild cover at first and then when shape-shifters became so popular readers took it for that genre. It wasn't. So you cover can become outdated easily.

The one kind of book I find very hard to sell no matter what I do is the children's books. Since I self publish them I don't have the full means to have art work that works well with all e-readers. This is a problem. Besides, children's just don't sell as well, so it makes it unprofitable.

I have found the formal formatting well worth it for my print books. They are wonderful, I have that done. Some of you might know her, Laura Shinn. Her son also edits for me, Josh. Wouldn't know what to do without these two.

Just talking with others about this though can teach us things we didn't know. And hearing from readers is a real plus.
God Bless

Tina Donahue said...

I have no idea what makes one book sell over the other. Frankly, I'm mystified as I believe most authors are. Your book(s) either sell or they don't. I've had books with lousy covers that did very well and those with great covers that languished. I've had books with awesome reviews that didn't sell much and those with crappy (or no) reviews that really took off.